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The new Aston Martin Vantage is ready for Le Mans

Yep, the new twin-turbo Vantage endurance racer is already here. Yikes

Still not sure about the new Aston Martin Vantage? Mere hours later, this is the racing version, to really shock you.

The big story is that it was developed in parallel with the road car. “Like the Ford GT,” you might be thinking, but we suspect this is a more evenly split effort between race and road.

Just like the GT, though, it will compete in the GTE class of endurance racing. The V8 Vantage GTE it replaces has 37 race wins – including two class victories at Le Mans – to its name.

It also sounded absolutely incredible, its thunderous V8 outstripping all but the Corvettes during the flying start of an endurance race. The top-level hybrid prototypes stood no chance. While the new car employs turbocharging, its 4.0-litre V8 comes from AMG, so we reckon it’ll titillate racegoers’ ears just as much.

The new Vantage road car makes 503bhp and 505lb ft, but its circuit cousin is rated at 530bhp-plus and 516lb ft-plus. Balance of Performance rules make more specific figures hard to quote. Either way, that power drives the rear wheels through a six-speed Xtrac sequential gearbox, and there’s a mechanical limited-slip differential in place of the road car’s electronic E-Diff.

Lots of lightweight components help it weigh 1,245kg (a regulated figure), down significantly on the 1,530kg road going Vantage. There are bespoke Michelin tyres, while Alcon and Ohlins have supplied the brakes and suspension.

While the road car has its own devilishly clever aerodynamic setup, the race car goes much further. There’s a spoiler tall enough to induce acrophobia. A rear diffuser that’ll trip up (and quite possibly swallow whole) stray toddlers. Aggressive air intakes puncture the smooth bonnet of the road car, too.

There’s a clear styling link between the two, mind, and it’s obvious from the outside the pair have been designed together. Less so inside, where style goes out the window in favour of functionality, but there’s still a whole lot of drama to the brightly coloured dials and buttons adorning its steering wheel.

It’s all been optimised for easy access and visibility, and there’s a rear-view camera with a collision avoidance radar. That might help avoid the messy interfaces seen in endurance racing when top-level LMP1 cars need to pass the slower GTEs.

The Vantage GTE has 8,000 miles of testing under its belt already (most Vantages will take a couple of years to put that sort of mileage on), including a 30-hour test at Spain’s Navarra circuit. So it’s already well on its way to being Le Mans-ready.

Those driving it have reported its easier to handle than the V8 Vantage GTE it replaces, which bodes well for the amateur drivers who’ll compete in one. While the Ford GT competes only in the professional GTE Pro class, the old Vantage has always done well in the hands of both full-time racers and so-called ‘gentlemen’ racers, and Aston won the GTE Am class in 2017.

The next season of the World Endurance Championship has been dubbed a ‘super season’; as new rules come into place, with two runs of the Le Mans 24 hours, the second being the season finale in June 2019. A stern test straight out of the box for the new Vantage, then, and Aston has gone for tried and tested drivers.

Darren Turner and Jonny Adam (who took the outgoing V8 Vantage GTE to Le Mans class victory in 2017) remain, as do Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen (they won the class overall for the 2016 season). Alex Lynn is a new recruit, with F1 testing and Formula E racing on his CV, while more driver announcements are due soon.

Excited to hear this thunder around Le Mans?

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